This is going to be tough to write. Max Pacioretty, my favourite player this year, committed a hit last night that is a no-no in the eyes of the NHL. As much as I want to be a homer and defend MaxPac, see no guilt in his actions, and call Shannahan a scrub for his indefinite suspension that is forth coming, I can’t. I watched the video over and over trying to convince myself Letang had his head down or that he lunged before the initial contact. But I can’t, I just can’t. If you have not seen it already, Here it is.

Did Pacioretty make contact with Letang’s head? Yes. That alone will warrant a suspension, no doubt in my mind. But there is a way. It may be farfetched, but it just might work.

We all know there is a certain corruptness when it comes to the NHL player safety department. It’s gotten better with Shannahan, but still not perfect (Malone on Campoli, anyone?). Suspensions and fines are being handed out left right and centre, (which is good don’t get me wrong) the chances of Pacioretty getting squashed by the Shannahammer are almost certain. Although if we analyse the facts and bring a few good arguments to the table, we might see Pacioretty in the lineup Wednesday in the Habs’ next game. Allow me to get my lawyer on.

1. Letang barely stayed down and came back for overtime which was just 3+ minutes after the injury was sustained. That may be because broken noses don’t hurt that much or because he is just a trooper. Either way, that has to be considered. To top it off Letang “scored” the OT winner. I put “scored” in quotations because it was the most questionable play I’ve ever seen, not just in the NHL, but in any level of  hockey. And by “questionable” I don’t mean if it was a goal or not, I’m questioning what type of drugs the refs were onnot to see that after 2 solid steamboats of Price freezing the puck, Letang comes in and hacks the puck loose and puts it in the net, and it’s called a goal. I don’t even… I can’t…. How!? How is that legal?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are my 1000 words to describe how I feel about that call.

Jared has a post describing exactly why that was not a goal. Read it here.

2. Montreal has drawn the short stick in cases like this before. March 2011 Chara breaks Pacioretty’s neck, keeps him out for 5 months. No suspension. November 2011 Pacioretty breaks Letang’s nose, keeps him out for 3 minutes. If you compare the facts and the outcomes from each incident, the former seemed to be much more serious, yet there was no suspension. If that didn’t warrant suspension, then why does this?  NHL, if you are reading this, I’d like to propose a deal. You don’t suspend Pacioretty and we can sweep both incidents under the rug and pretend like they never happened. In all seriousness, Chara deserved a suspension, Pacioretty does too. Now this offer won’t work because Pittsburgh will end up feeling just like we did back in March. See what you’ve done NHL? This whole argument could have been avoided if you’d just suspended Chara. In retrospect this is not a valid point, but maybe it’ll guilt Shannahan into letting Pacioretty off the hook.

3. Pacioretty was reported to have apologized to Letang after the game. In the tape you can see Pacioretty had his elbow in the entire time and sitting on the bench you could see how guilty he felt. All of the are indicators that Pacioretty had no intent to injure Letang. None of which were committed by that lumbering oaf in Boston after he almost decapitated Pacioretty. I know, I know, what’s done is done, I can’t change the past by ranting about it, but that hit seems to strike a nerve whenever i think about it. Any way point in a nutshell, No intent to injure.

If you’ll excuse me, I would be using this paragraph to wrap up the article, but first I must address people on twitter calling Max Pacioretty a hypocrite and calling the hit a cheapshot. In what sense is Pacioretty a hypocrite? A 6’9″ Giant pushed his head into a metal post. Pacioretty went for an open ice hit, and didn’t execute it very well resulting in a accidental  dirty hit. I know it was a dirty hit, though it wasn’t a dirty play nor is Pacioretty a dirty player. Just because Letang had his head down does not make it a cheapshot, It’s a cheapshot if Pacioretty blindsided him, but he didn’t Pacioretty was in front of Letang the entire play, If Letang had his head up the whole time, he’d have seen Patches coming.

Back to the hit itself.

With my main points presented I’d like to think I smooth talked the jury to bend to my will. But there is still one point to be made in this debacle. This point works against the case of the defence and will most likely be the deciding factor is choosing whether or not Pacioretty spends time behind metaphorical NHL bars.

Pacioretty is a repeat offender.

Last season, Pacioretty faced supplementary discipline for hitting NY Islanders defenceman Mark Eaton from behind.

That just puts a skewer through just about everything I just said. The best I can hope for is getting Pacioretty manslaughter instead of first degree murder. On a much lower scale of course.

Undoubtedly, we’ll be hearing “the onus was on Pacioretty to make clean contact with Letang” Most people are saying 2-3 games, but considering some of the sentences given out to other hit this season, 5-6 is a possibility. Brace yourselves people.

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